Jul 28, 2014

FEMA Sandy Money Slow To Get To Toms River, Officials Say

Congress approved a $51 billion aid package in January, but Shore Area towns have seen a fraction of their costs covered in nine months since Hurricane Sandy.

FEMA Sandy Money Slow To Get To Toms River, Officials Say

By  Tom Davis and  Keith Brown

In the first nine months since Hurricane Sandy hit Shore Area towns, about $4.3 million in federal emergency money has been doled out to offset costs of cleanup and removal in some of the hardest hit areas of Toms River, state figures show.

The state Office of Emergency Management, which has been distributing the federal money to municipalities throughout the state, reports that Toms River -including Ortley Beach and other areas - received a total of $4,345,788.95 from the federal government, mainly going toward reimbursement for debris removal and safety measures, according to an OEM accounting of public assistance payments.

The OEM covers payments to municipalities, other public entities and some eligible private companies statewide. The Toms River figures, and those from other communities, were actual dollars received by July 30 to cover emergency costs, not requests made or applications still in the pipeline, OEM officials said Tuesday.

But while the aid money is welcome, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what towns have spent cleaning up from the October storm, officials said.

Paul Shives, Toms River's business administrator, said the township has asked for as much as $14 million for Sandy aid, and could ultimately ask for upwards to $40 million.

Shives said the layers of government approval - from FEMA, the state or the county, or all of the above - has also helped bring the process, at times, to a near halt.

"it's slow," he said.  "The process is cumbersome. All three levels of government are involved, They are a very decentralized."

Compared to other Shore communities, Toms River has fared a little better. The township received the most money among Ocean County communities, followed by Belmar has rcollected just more than $2.2 million. Neptune Township, which includes hard hit areas of Ocean Grove and Shark River Hills, received the next largest sum at just more than $1.9 million, according to the figures.

“It’s certainly frustrating,’’ said Colleen Connelly, Belmar’s borough administrator. “But we understand that with a disaster of this magnitude comes a lot of bureaucracy.’’

Lynn Servon, secretary of the Neptune Township Economic Development Corporation, said FEMA estimated the township’s damages at around $7.2 million.

The process to get reimbursed for its outlay has been slow until just the past few weeks when the OEM set up an electronic submission system that tracks where in the pipeline requests for reimbursement fall.

“Before that, you sort of didn’t know where you were at,’’ Servon said.

Line items represent payment for specific requests for itemized claims listed in the full report,  which can be found by clicking here.

Ocean County government acts as the centralized administrator for doling out grants, so the county's municipalities may appear to have smaller amounts than other regions. Here is the list of Ocean County towns and what they received as of July 30:

Toms River $4,345,788.95
Mantoloking $2,868,989.40
Point Beach $2,624,373.50
Beach Haven $2,167,353.20
Little Rgg Harbor $2,027,072.22
Lavallette $1,149,962.23
Seaside Heights $1,000,355.17
Berkeley $935,319.62
Long Beach Township $859,281.06
Brick $718,525.15
Bay Head $513,114.51
Lacey $419,583.72
Tuckerton $398,078.93
Jackson $359,033.46
Harvey Cedars $240,893.00
Ocean Gate $215,864.83
Surf City $186,619.81
Stafford $152,450.57
Waretown $138,125.11
Lakewood $119,922.75
Point Boro $101,898.11
Beachwood $89,643.72
Ship Bottom $73,810.10
Island Heights $72,480.44
Barnegat Light $66,382.60
South Toms River $52,481.87
Seaside Park $43,713.75
Lakehurst $42,038.06
Plumsted $30,572.06
Eagleswood $27,937.18
Pine Beach $8,382.50
Barnegat NA

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